Making cheese from humans’ foot, nose, armpit bacteria

Make hay while the sun shines, but make cheese from places where it does not” is the unstated them of a project described in Christina Agapakis‘s Harvard PhD Thesis (and described more colorfully on her web site):

“Descriptions of  human body odors often overlap with those of  cheese; Propionibacterium used to make Swiss cheese is a major contributor to the smell of the human armpit and Limburger cheese offers a remarkably close substitute for the smell of human feet, an attractant for certain species of  mosquito…

“we sought out to make cheeses with starter cultures isolated from the human body. Swabs from hands, feet, noses, and armpits were inoculated into fresh, pasteurized, organic whole milk (figure 5.4) and incubated overnight at 37° Celsius. The milk curds were then strained and pressed, yelding unique smelling fresh cheeses (figure 5.5). Eight cheeses were produced in total for further study.”

It cites the Ig Nobel Prize-winning study

Knols, B G and De Jong, R, Limburger cheese as an attractant for the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae s.s. Parasitology today (Personal ed.) 12 (4), 159 (1996).

(Thanks to investigator Todd Ellner for bringing this to our attention.)

BONUS: A video of Ig Nobel winner Bart Knols and cheese (and other things):

BONUS: Ripe cheese odor, medically